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Eye Irritation

What is an eye irritation?

An irritant in the eye is a very common cause of red eyes. The irritant could be shampoo, smog, smoke, or chlorine from a swimming pool. Often young children's eyes are irritated by touching the eyes with hands carrying dirt, food, soap, or animal saliva.

How long does it last?

Eyes usually lose their redness within 4 hours after the irritating substance is washed out.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Wash with soap: Wash the face and then wash the eyelids once with soap and water. Rinse them carefully with water. This will remove any irritants from the skin.
  • Rinse out with water: Rinse out the eye with warm water for 5 minutes.
  • Eyedrops: Red eyes from irritants usually feel much better after the irritant has been washed out. If the eyes are still uncomfortable and bloodshot, put in some artificial tears or long-acting vasoconstrictor eyedrops (nonprescription items). Your child's eyedrops are _______________________. Use 1 drop every _____ hours as necessary.

When should I call my child's health care provider?

Call during office hours if:

  • Your child has a yellow discharge coming from the eye.
  • The redness lasts more than 2 days
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-03-02
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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